How Many Hours In A Week Can You Legally Work In The UK?
How Many Hours In A Week Can You Legally Work In The UK? Photo KnowInsiders

What counts as working hours

Working hours are any time the employee is 'at the employer’s disposal'. This means doing things their employer has asked them to do for their job.

Working hours include:

-job-related training

-travel time as part of a job (this includes travel time between clients or customers)

-working from home

-working lunches

-working abroad

-paid overtime

-unpaid overtime the employer has asked the employee to do and the employee has agreed

-any time treated as 'working time' under a contract

Working hours can include time spent on call.

Working hours do not include:

breaks when no work is done, such as lunch breaks

travelling that’s outside of normal working hours and not requested by the employer

unpaid overtime the employee has volunteered for, such as staying late to finish something off

paid or unpaid holiday

travel to and from work (if the employee has a fixed place of work)

How are maximum hours allowed to work in a week in the UK?

You can’t work more than 48 hours a week on average - normally averaged over 17 weeks. This law is sometimes called the ‘working time directive’ or ‘working time regulations’.

You can choose to work more by opting out of the 48-hour week.

If you’re under 18, you can’t work more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week.

Can you work 13 hours a day UK?

Workers covered by the Working Time Regulations must not be required to work more than 13 hours per day. Also individuals must not be required, against their wishes, to work an average of more than 48 hours a week. … A reference period of 17 weeks is normal.

How many breaks do you get in a 8 hour shift UK?

The statutory minimum break entitlement for an 8-hour shift in the UK is a 20-minute break. The break entitlement doesn’t increase the longer the shift becomes.

48 hours is how many hours a day? How many hours can you work in a day by law UK?

Photo reed
Photo reed

You shouldn’t have to work more than an average of 8 hours in each 24-hour period, averaged out over 17 weeks. You can work more than 8 hours a day as long as the average over 17 weeks is no more than 8.

Can I choose to work more than 48 hours a week?

If you want to work more than the maximum weekly working hours, you can opt out. This must be done in writing, and can be for a specified amount of time, or for an indefinite period.

However, you won’t be able to opt out if you work:

-For an airline

-On ships, boats, or in the road transport industry (e.g. delivery drivers, bus conductors)

-As a security guard transporting high-value goods


You may have to work more than 48 hours a week on average if you work in a job:

-where 24-hour staffing is required

-in the armed forces, emergency services or police

-in security and surveillance

-as a domestic servant in a private household

-as a seafarer, sea-fisherman or worker on vessels on inland waterways

-where working time is not measured and you’re in control, eg you’re a managing executive with control over your decisions.

How many days off am I entitled to?

All employees are entitled to 5.6 weeks paid annual leave, including bank holidays.

This works out as 28 days a year for someone working 5 days a week. For part time, seasonal, or casual work, annual leave is worked out pro rata. For example, if you work 3 days a week, you’ll be entitled to 16.8 days a year (3 x 5.6).

How many hours can international students work while studying in the UK?

In UK, foreign students are allowed to work part-time. In the UK as an international student, you’re allowed to work up to 20 hours at maximum per week during term-time and full-time during holiday breaks.

But there are many restrictions and conditions you must stay in line with in order to be allowed to work.


Your eligibility to work in the UK while studying depends on two major restrictions: those set by your university and those by state-run official institutions. First, you must ensure that your university doesn’t have any constrain pulling you back from working before dealing with state officials. For example, depending on your study course your university may limit working hours to you, aside from governmental restrictions.

In the UK, particularly in big cities like London, international students can easily find a part-time job. Some universities may only allow you to work inside the campus, but there is no need to worry because there are still many options available to you. However, before getting out to hunt part-time jobs you must check if you’re eligible for such work. It all starts with your Tier 4 visa, the official student visa in the UK. The first criteria you must check is your age. If you’re under 16 and don’t have a Tier 4 (General 4) you’re not qualified to work in the UK.

If one of the following is stated in that letter you can work in the UK:

  • Work must be authorized
  • Able to work as authorized by the Secretary of State
  • Work as in Tier 4 Rules
  • Restricted as in Tier 4 Rules
  • Restricted work – Part-time during term-time, Full-time during vacations
  • Restricted work time
  • Work limited to 20 hours per week at maximum during term-time
  • Work limited to 10 hours per week at maximum during term-time

Your passport’s sticker may say something a bit different to all of the above options, but if none of the following isn’t mentioned you’re eligible to work.

  • No work
  • Work prohibited

If none of these is clearly stated in your paperwork or you have a problem understanding it, we advise you to contact them personally before deciding to get a job.

Note that if you decide to move to a higher level of study or change the course you may be required to initiate a new immigration application. Until you receive a response to this new application you must adhere to the old immigration status.

How many hours you’re allowed to work per week?

How many hours you’re permitted to work in the UK depends on the type of the course you’re attending too. Below are shown how many hours you can work with respect to the type of course.

In these types of courses, a student can work up to 20 hours per week

A full-time course at a degree level or above in a recognized higher education institution

A short-term student registered in a program of a foreign higher institution settled in UK

In the following types of courses, students are allowed to work only 10 hours a week

  • In a full-time course below level degree sponsored by a recognized body or a publicly-funded as a higher education institution.
  • Any course where the student is aged over 16 holds a Tier 4 (Child) visa

While students attending these courses are not allowed to work while studying in UK

  • In a part-time postgraduate course or above that is supported by a recognized body in the UK or that receives public funds as a Higher Education Institution
  • In a course at a further education college at whatever level
  • In a course at any level offered by a private higher education provider
  • At any course where the student aged under 16 has a Tier 4 (Child) visa

In the UK you’ll face some limits on working hours depended on few elements, including the type of your course and the type of Tier 4 sponsor you’re studying at. Full-time students can work for 20 hours per week at maximum, whether you get or not paid for your job. You can’t average a week in a long period of time since there’s a legal definition of the week. Based on this rule a week is the period of 7 days between a Monday and Sunday.

Types of jobs you’re not allowed to do

After you make sure you’re allowed to work in the UK, you’ll now have to deal with some constraints on the type of work you’re willing to do. There are certain jobs you’re not allowed to do while studying in the UK. Below are some types of them (paid or not paid) you can’t engage to when you’re holding a Tier 4 visa:

  • Be a self-employed or working freelance
  • Initiate a business activity
  • Full-time permanent job
  • Professional sportsperson including sport coach
  • Work as an entertainer
  • Work as a dentist or a doctor in training, except you’re enrolled in a foundation program.

What types of jobs can you find in UK for students?

In general, the primary purpose of student visas in the UK is to serve as a route for you to study without barriers. Despite being designed only to allow you to attend the university, your student visa can also allow you to work within certain time limits. However, note that the extent to which you’re allowed to work, it’s made rather for your professional gains or to complement your budget. Said otherwise, the government wants to be ensured you’re not losing the track of your studies while working.

If a work placement is mandatory for your study course, then there is a fixed time-limit you should work. Currently, if you’re attending such course you’re allowed to work for the period of time which is less than 33% of the whole duration of your course.

If you are allowed to work during study, you can apply for and accept jobs in most types of paid role, at any level. Below, we have set out the types of work you must not do.

If you earn a relatively high amount, for example around £15,000 a year or more, the Home Office might question your working hours. There are no limits on what you may earn or on your hours of work in vacations and after study, but make sure you never exceed your maximum weekly working hours in term time, and do not let work interfere with making progress on your course.

Self-employment and business activities are not permitted. However, the guidance for Start-up and Innovator endorsing bodies states that Students are allowed to carry out preliminary activities such as writing business plans or negotiating contracts and they may incur pre-trading costs with a view to deciding whether to start a business under an immigration route such as Start-up, Innovator or the doctorate extension scheme - see Working after studies.

The following circumstances make an exemption to this rule:

Your study course is offered in a recognized higher education institution and it’s at RQF 6 or SCQF 9. You’re allowed to work up to 50% of the total length of your studies.

Your study course is part of a study abroad programme and it’s at RQF 6 or SCQF levels. You’re allowed to work up to 50% of the total length of your studies

You’re a Tier 4 (Child) aged 16 or above. You’re allowed to work up to 50% of the total length of your studies.

Work placement is an integral part of the study course and there’s a UK statutory requirement that allows you to exceed this limit.

As a foreigner and as an individual who may not have a clue of how the labour market work, it may be hard guessing what type of jobs you can and still not violating the law. Surely, there are many such jobs, but if you don’t know at least some of them right from the beginning you may end up with fewer options available.

Many students fear that they lack the proper skills to find a job as a student. That is mainly wrong because the majority of student jobs require no specific qualifications or skills. Furthermore, regardless of how hard may be to perform the task in a job placement as a student, you will always receive provision from an experienced employee.

But have you ever thought about what types of jobs you can find while studying in UK.

Below we give you a long list of student jobs in the UK, which will give you an idea over what jobs to seek in UK as a foreign student.

  • Student Support officer
  • Sales assistant
  • Pharmacy Deliver Driver
  • Pizza Deliver Driver
  • Veterinary care assistant
  • Personal Assistant
  • Physiotherapy assistant
  • Admission Officer
  • Sport Facilities Worker
  • Gardener
  • Customer Assistant
  • Freelance translator
  • Waitress
  • Receptionist
  • Facilities Assistant
  • Residence Guider
  • Promotional worker
  • Enrollment advisor
  • Finance Assistant
  • Social Media Assistant
  • Newspaper distributor
  • Photographer
  • Personal Tutor
  • Ice Cream scooper
  • Host at a Restaurant
  • Smoothie Maker
  • Bartender
  • Cashier
  • Blogger
  • Graphic designer
  • Software Developer Intern
  • Bookseller
  • Tour Guide
  • Research Assistant
  • Waitress at the university cafeteria
  • Pet caretaker
  • House Cleaner
  • Babysitter
  • Brand Ambassador
  • IT assistant
  • Security guard
  • Fitness instructor

How many hours for time between shift?

Employees are legally entitled to 11 hours of rest between working days. This amounts to their ‘daily rest’.

In terms of ‘weekly rest’, employees are legally entitled to 24 hours off every 7 working days, or 48 hours off every 14 working days. There are tighter restrictions in place for employees working a night shift, as they cannot work for more than eight hours in each 24-hour period.

The UK operates under the European Working Time Directive to ensure that employees get sufficient rest between shifts. Therefore, even if your employees have agreed to opt out of the 48-hour working week, they must still be allowed adequate time for rest between shifts. This is also the case for part-time workers, so the hours worked for another employer must also be taken into account.

There are exceptions for certain jobs, such as the armed forces, emergency services, mobile jobs, and jobs with no set hours.

Note: Employees under the age of 18 must have at least 12 consecutive hours of rest between working days, and a weekly rest of 48 hours.

How many hours for taking breaks?

Employees are entitled to one 20-minute break in a working day if they work more than 6 hours that day. However, it is entirely at the employer’s discretion if this break is paid or not.

The employer can state when such rest breaks take place, so long as the break is uninterrupted, and it is taken in the middle of the shift. Employees are entitled to spend their break away from their work, and they cannot be asked to return to work before their break is finished.

Employees are not legally entitled to other breaks, such as smoking breaks. Other breaks are at the employer’s discretion.

Once again, certain jobs are exempt from the required rest breaks, such as the armed forces, mobile jobs, and jobs with no set hours.

Note: Employees under the age of 18 are entitled to a 30-minute break if they are working more than 4.5 hours that day.

If an employee needs to work more hours than the average

An employer can ask an employee to work more than 48 hours in a week. This is as long as they reduce the employee’s hours in future, to even out their average weekly hours.

If the employment contract does not say anything about doing extra hours, the employer should check the employee agrees to them.


Sam usually works 48 hours a week. He has not opted out of the weekly limit.

This week, Sam’s manager asks him to work 55 hours (7 hours more than usual). The request is because the business is short staffed. Sam agrees to work the extra hours.

To comply with the law, Sam’s manager must make sure his weekly average is reduced back down to 48 hours. So after discussing the situation, Sam and his manager agree he will work 41 hours (7 hours less than usual) the following week.

If an employee has more than one job

The 48-hour weekly average is the limit, even if the employee has more than one job.

If an employer finds out their employee has another job

The employer must make sure their employee is not working more than an average 48 hours a week in total across both jobs.


Tracey works an average of 30 hours a week in a factory. This week, she tells the factory manager that she has also started working 20 hours a week in a cafe.

The manager tells Tracey she risks working more hours than the legal limit. Therefore Tracey must either reduce her total working hours to below 48, or agree to opt out of the weekly limit.

Tracey decides she would rather earn more money, so she opts out of the of the weekly limit.

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